Complex shapes and masks overview

In Motion, you can draw complex shapes and masks using splines. Splines are vector-based curves that allow for complex, customized shapes. There are two spline-drawing methods:

  • Bezier splines: Bezier splines are good for drawing shapes for illustration. The controls used to manipulate Bezier splines are similar to those found in many other drawing and compositing applications, so they may be familiar to you. Bezier controls lend themselves to the creation of precise, detailed shapes. Tangent handles adjust the curvature of the shape on either side of the control point, and this defines the surface of the shape.

    Canvas showing Bezier control point and its tangent handles
  • B-Splines: You can also use B-Splines to draw complex shapes. But unlike Bezier splines, B-Splines are manipulated using only points—there are no tangent handles. Furthermore, the points themselves do not lie on the surface of the shape. Instead, each B-Spline control point is offset from the shape’s surface, “magnetically” pulling that section of the shape toward itself to create a curve. By combining the influence of multiple B-Spline points, you can create different curves. B-Splines are extremely smooth—by default, there are no sharp angles in B-Spline shapes, although you can create sharper curves, if necessary.

    Canvas showing B-Spline control point

    Because B-Spline controls are so simple, they’re easy to animate and manipulate. The tools you use for a specific task are largely a matter of personal preference.

You can add a Bezier and B-Spline shapes and masks to a project in the following ways:

You can use Bezier splines and B-Spline splines interchangeably for any task, and for either shapes or masks.